Best Friends Blog

Three things you can do to make your community pit bull friendly

This past Saturday was National Pit Bull Awareness Day so I hope everyone was thinking pits as they went about their daily rounds. They certainly were aware of Pit Bulls in the Bronx (yeah, I know it’s Bronx, N.Y., not the Bronx, but that’s where we lived when I was born and it’s always been da Bronx to me). To help plant a flag for this annual commemoration, Best Friends sponsored Pet Bull Palooza at Crotona Park in the Bronx in collaboration with ASPCA and The Mayor’s Alliance for New York City Animals. The ASPCA rolled in two of their mobile spay / neuter vans (which were booked out by 8am) and scheduled a few dozen more follow up appointments with local’s eager to customize their pit bulls. In addition to free spay / neuter services, PBP offered:

  • Free vaccinations and microchip
  • Free ear cleaning and nail trimming
  • Free leashes and collars for first 300 dogs
  • Free toys and treats for first 300 dogs
  • Free dog food

Everything went! What a great day. These kind of events make the point against mandatory spay / neuter laws…no law required…if you provide low cost or free s/n services, they will come. But I digress.

Why all the attention on pit bulls? Well, for a variety of reasons, they are the most killed breed/type of dog in America’s shelters. If we want to get to No More Homeless Pets, pits are an essential piece of the puzzle.

Pit Bulls rock! They are remarkable, eager to please, animals with mad athletic skills and an abundance of personality. Of course you can make them fight, you make them do just about anything…including make coffee, but what they’re best at is being ridiculous… big grins, a motor driven tail and goofy poses and expressions.

Best Friends is committed to restoring the reputation of pit bull type dogs and has some exciting programs in the works featuring very effective tools and resources to help keep your community pit bull friendly.

At the No More Homeless Pets Conference 10 days ago, we were delighted to announce a partnership with Petsmart Charities called the “Shelter Partners for Pit Bulls Project”. Basically it’s a pilot project based on a very successful partnership between Best Friends and Salt Lake County Animal Services. It’s had a demonstrable impact on increasing the number of pit type dogs adopted and consequently reducing the number of such dogs surrendered and killed at Salt Lake County Animal Services.

Petsmart kicked in $240,000 to get the program started in 5 target communities that Best Friends will partner with: Rancho Cucamonga, California, Baltimore, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Carlsbad, California and Tampa, Florida.

All great stuff you say, but what can I do in my city to make it Pit Bull friendly?

Here are three things you can do to keep your community Pit Bull friendly:

1. Be Proactive

Does your community have a comprehensive dangerous dog ordinance? If not, don’t wait, take steps to get a good one passed. It will be a bulwark against regressive and reactive breed bans or other breed discriminatory regulations. A good dangerous dog ordinance targets the deed, not the breed. It focuses on irresponsible owners of whatever breed of dog who encourage aggressive behavior, take pleasure in having the “baddest dog” in the neighborhood, blow off neighbors concerns and turn their dogs into extensions of their own anti-social selves with the result being that when, not if, someone gets bitten, the dog and probably the breed get blamed. Best Friends has model dangerous dog ordinance language available and our team will be happy to help shepherd you through the process of working with local officials to get good laws in place before bad laws are dreamed up by grandstanding and / or uninformed politicians. Click here for model ordinances, resources and more.

2. Use The Best Friends Breed Discriminatory Fiscal Impact Calculator

If your community is plagued by a grandstanding pol or has a well meaning but uninformed neighborhood activist or for some other reason is considering a breed ban or some other form of breed discriminatory legislation, the best strategy to move the conversation from fear mongering hysteria to a rational discussion of what’s best for the community, use THE CALCULATOR!  The Best Friends BDL Fiscal Impact Calculator will tell you how much it will cost the taxpayer to enforce, defend and implement a breed ban. When dollars come into the conversation, everything slows down and the reality of a breed ban can be considered in a different light. Does your community really want to introduce a police state with door-to-door searches that leaves kids crying on the doorstep as family pets…family members…are hauled off to be killed or does it really want to protect the community and promote responsible pet ownership through proactive enforcement of progressive dangerous dog laws.

3. Host A Pit Bull Palooza

Have some fun, fix some pits, create a community of pit bull advocates who love these dogs and are sending all the right messages.

Pits are great dogs and they need our help to get out of shelters, to stay out of shelters and to be recognized for the great dogs that they are. For help and resources for your community be sure to visit the Best Friends campaign site for Pit Bulls: Saving America’s Dog

  • Derick

    I think there should be more of a mention on how to make your community pitbull safe, as in proper protection and comfy housing for your pet. I wrote a blog on it, and would hope everyone provides some type of enclosures that prevents their dog or other people from getting hurt and vise versa.

    I don’t mind educating people on pits and socializing them with people who are willing, but I would rather point how to better socialize, train, and house your animal.

  • Turkey

    How about educating pit bull owners on what pit bulls are, what their genetic traits are, and how to own them properly? The only way non-pit owners are going to be more open to pit bulls is if they stop attacking and their owners appear far more responsible, educated and concerned for the community than they do now. You can have all the calculators and paloozas you want, you’re just preaching to the choir, and the choir is the minority.

    • I posted a link detailing how to properly house a pit to the best of your budget. But I would prefer if people with pitbulls or known stranger aggressive dogs would use all three methods.

    • dogsRdogs

      “You can have all the calculators and paloozas you want, you’re just preaching to the choir, and the choir is the minority.”

      Actually, I have to disagree with this statement and say that the responsible pitbulls are the majority. I live in Seattle and we have a huge number of pit bulls residing in this city. However, we rarely hear about pit bull attacks. So, obviously the majority of pitbull owners in Seattle are responsible owners and own wonderful dogs who are not roaming the streets, otherwise we would be hearing about attacks on a daily basis.

      • But that’s the point, just because there are a majority of good owners in Seattle it doesn’t mean that the majority aren’t elsewhere. This is why thinking in absolutist terms to the benefit of the doubt can be troublesome.

        And it depends on the population of pits within your state. There’s never a clear cut answer for what the bred populous is in most areas, so this can become problematic as well.

        • So, what you’re saying is, you don’t have any idea what percentage of pit bulls are the victims of irresponsible owners. Got any figures to back up your suspicions? Real, evidence-based figures?

    • Pit bull owners “appearing farm more responsible, educated and concerned for the community than they do now” is really in the hands who present “appearances” to the public, the news media, who will insert the words “pit bull” into any dog bite story to make it more sensational. And, of course, to know-nothings like yourself, always so eager to chime in on a topic that you haven’t a clue about.

  • Breed bans are nonsense. Furthermore, it’s insane to have a ban on owning pit bulls if you are not going to ban their breeding. You’re telling society pits are too dangerous to own, meanwhile letting thousands more be bred every year? Where is the logic in that?

    I have rescued several pit mixes and they were fabulous dogs. However, I would love to see the breeders shut down because there are already too many pits in shelters, and they often attract the worst type of owner.

  • Marjorie Troutman

    Am SO glad to learn of others’ grand relationships with Pits. I had one (sold to us as a “Labrador Mix”) for 17-1/2 years. This was 1986, Pit-Bull scare time in LA but “Beau” was raised with much love and sparing discipline, was great with my 2 young adults, even “danced” with our daughter on occasion. Our Veterinarian told us early on that these wonderful dogs will act as they are raised (programmed) by their owners, either with love, or otherwise. Hope the PetSmart program catches on and spreads; these dear dogs have been maligned unjustlyfor too long!

  • Jeneannec

    Thank you so much for this information. I am currently in a situation with my city ordinance and my pit bull mix. I love my pit bull and she is so kind and fun. I am looking at the possibility of having to give her away due to the fact I can not afford the insurance requirements the city is requiring. I am very sad.
    jeneanne adkins
    columbus ohio

  • Roziek13

    I found out that the county where I live sells breed info they get on license applications to home owners insurance companies, which in turn raise rates or cancel insurance on the basis of “dangerous dog” ownership.

  • Tapt

    The question is: How you raise them??? My husband and I have a female mix pitbull and My daughter has two male pitbulls and talk about babies. We found ours wondering around at my work looking for food, she got right in the truck with us laid down until we were about a mile from our house, she then got up put her head on my shoulder and I told her she was a good girl she then went to my husband and did the same. A few weeks later I think I had a run in with her previous owner he was walking a very lg pitbull and was smacking it with a lease as I approached him, I had words with him. I then realize that I had saved Gabby from a life of abuse. She now lives with 9 other dogs and very happy and safe from abuse. Cash (my grandbaby) doesn’t even know he’s a pitbull. Nubi (my other grandbaby) life started out bad, his previous owners decided to have someone crop his tail with a hatchet and then threw him in a back yard with his insides hanging out. Thank God for neighbors he was rescused and PAWS from Col. GA gave him a new life with my daughter. He is like an old man, he just wants to lay around and be loved on. And by the way their best friend is a 6lb Yorkie named Diesel. They eat, sleep and play all day together. So please America educate yourself on this breed. Dog Fighting is a Crime and it is not just Pitbulls!

  • MomofRescuedPits

    PetSmart had changed their policy! They are no longer banning pits, however pits are not allowed to participate in any playtimes nor be walked with any other dogs, even your own. Still, at least the flat out ban has stopped!

  • Marcella

    I also had an AmStaff. Found him on the side of the road when he was 3 months old in March of 2006. Tried to get him back to his home but no houses around, just farms. He was a sweetheart. Had him for 8 months. Husband had to have hip replacement both sides, one in July and the other in October. I had returned to work after his second op and he had to heal more so the dog (Magnum we named him) was a little too much for him to handle. “Friends” were to find a temp foster home for him for a couple of months. But these “friends” stabbed us in the back and sold Magnum to someone behind our backs. We tried to find out who, but were told to let it go “he’s not your dog anymore”. We could not prove this. But we felt it was done as Magnum was not neutered. We looked for him for over a year in the area we thought he was brought to. We put up signs and posters. But to no avail. After a few months of being online posting, were told by other “friends” that if we did not let it go my husband may end up in jail. Stopped posting online but we did keep looking. Miss Magnum a lot even to this day.

  • Dleebrammer

    I live in Garland, TX and they have instituted a no adoption policy for Pits. If they pick them up and no claims they are are put down. I have had conversations with them about this. The odd part is I have a neighbor I work wil also and all someone has to is say he hurt their cat, he is locked in his yard, could not have been him and animal control automatically assumes its true. I can put my dogs in sit position and stand and talk with his mater and he just sits also. He is always so happy to see me. There are several in my neighborhood that are just loves and one family that is not. I was alerted my a nrighbor down the street that the pit bulls behind an 8′ fench were starving and two 7 month old puppies were viciously attchinh a third and the owner was doing nothing about. She came to me because she knew I would act. The dogs were removed and the two were deemed vicious and the father and the one were returned. I am not sure how you return animals to a house where there was no cover , no food and no water on 100 plus days for weeks. I really don’t know what I can do to help save this wonderful breed when they are given such a bad rap. It’s the owner not the dog. I so appreciate all the work Best Friends does.

  • MomofRescuedPits

    While it’s great that PetSmart is partnering to help pitbulls, that move seems to be all about image. I’m for absolutely anything that helps pits and any money or time donated. But when PetSmart itself BANS pitbulls from their doggie hotels (one of which is in my area) doesn’t that make them hypocrites?

  • Walt Vasco

    The APBT is one of the best breeds of dog in the world. It was known as “Americas dog” not so long ago. It is my favorite breed and I have been a strong advocate for them. I will continue to advocate and support them all my life!

    Thank you “Best Friends Animal Society” for all you do to help them and all animals!!
    Aloha and God Bless, Walt Vasco.

  • Tubesaft78910

    I had one pit for 14 years, at about 8 yrs he came down with cancer. I was lucky enough to find a board certified cancer vet. We did almost three yrs of cemo and he lived til 14. Wonderful friend and compainion named Killian. When the cancer came back it just ate him up in a month and I had to let him go. After awhile I found a Amstaff that had been returned to the breeder, a two year old nutered male named Squid. Both dogs spend every day with me at work, just Squid now. I have customers that would never go near the breed until they met these guys. Now the come in to get a Squid fix.
    I do not think they are breed that everyone should have, its a 24/7 dog and not one you can just leave somewhere. No matter what happens it will be the pits fault so no dog parks. I have a place on the coast with miles of sandy beach and that the only place I let him run free.
    I am seventy years old so Squid will most likely be my last dog. I feel very lucky to have shared my life with them, they are truly a wonderful animal.
    I also rescue old Goldens that no one will take, have been able to give them a few good years.

    • Elizabeth

      I have a pittie mix, beagle amstaff, funniest and most loving dog in the world. I loved your story and I thank God for people like you. I live in Ontario, Canada where there is a breed ban and even though I comply with the law and my dog is friendly and obedient, I live in fear daily that he will be taken from me and euthanized.
      All the best to you and your precious ones. Take care.

    • Shadio

      Your post brought tears to my eyes.
      It’s too bad there aren’t more people like you in the world.

    • Naoko

      You are such an amazing person…!!!

  • Margykr

    you have gone way too overboard about pit bulls. you are defending them endlessly at the expense of other breeds. please slow down your bandwagon.

    • Walt Vasco

      You are on the wrong page you idiot!!!!!!!!

    • GVPC

      That is just about the most uneducated remark I’ve seen lately! If the stupid people out there were not breeding pit bulls so much and thousands of them weren’t dieing in the shelters because of it and stupid city governments werent banning them we wouldn’t have to work so hard to save them!!! Defending them at the expense of other breeds……….GIVE ME A BREAK!!!!!! GRRRRRRRRR!

    • pit bulls & dogs OF OTHER BREEDS labelled as pits are the predominant dogs killed in shelters…1 in 600 gets adopted, the rest are killed. it is a holocaust. educate yourself & you will find that defending pit bulls is integral to defending all dogs’ rights as sentient beings entitled to life and love.

      • This seems a bit like a straw man statement.
        How does defending pitbulls help out other dogs in shelters? If anything at all, all this does is cause people to ignore the other breeds who are just as good if not better than pitbulls depending on what kind of personality you’re looking for.

  • Sfisk1

    I got my latest Staffordshire Bull from Rancho Cucamonga. They are a great shelter and are pit bull positive, so I am sure they will do great with the program!

  • Ruby

    And never fail to contradict the knee-jerk “it’s all in how they’re raised” comment! It’s NOT in how they are raised, or rescue efforts would be useless in cases of abuse and neglect!! People frequently say this in an effort to be supportive of me in having pit bulls and I can only hope they aren’t put off when I explain that it isn’t true. My pits came directly from kill shelters to me, one at 11 months and the other at 3 years of age, and they are my perfect darlings. We live in an apartment with thin walls and a bunch of indoor cats and everyone gets along and nobody barks or chews our stuff. I walk them a lot, work on training (not professional which I couldn’t afford) and occasionally crate, but these are not high-energy dogs, not like a lab or a shepherd. I couldn’t keep largish dogs of most breeds in this small place no matter how much I walked them, and a less obedient breed might not be trainable to the point of never barking and letting multiple cats sleep all over them. I know I’ve gotten lucky, not every pit bull could either, but these are poor Southern kill shelter dogs, the kind people tend to think will have problems, and they did not even have heartworms. They are perfect.

  • Bobbi


  • Djlester1

    Pits are beautiful, sensitive and loving dogs. They are very energetic and need lots of exercise. I think they are best for young couples without children who can give them the attention they need.

    • Walt Vasco

      They are best for anyone person or family with kids or not as long as they are willing to give the dogs lots of love and exercise!!

    • I agree.
      But I think these people need to be knowledgeable on the power and energy of this breed. But I do agree, pitbulls shouldn’t be placed in homes with kids under 13, but that’s just me. And it’s for various logical reasons. Such as most kids rough housing or screaming too much, which could excite the dog in the wrong way.

  • Abhijit

    I reside in Canada in the province of Ontario which regrettably has passed a Breed Ban law for Pitbulls. Despite a prolonged fight with lawmakers and others supporting the ban, we animal/dog/pit lovers lost out. I now fully comprehend the difficulty of fighting ignorance and realize little knowledge is a dangerous thing!
    Wish we had access to the above guidelines before the law was passed – who knows, it might have worked. To all those who are living in areas where there is talk of a breed ban, or no breed ban law as yet, please pay heed to this article and stop it before it starts.

  • Lynngillespie1

    I have reently adopted a pit bull from a no kill shelter. I have a rescued doberman and a house full of chihuahuas at home. He is a fun, wonderful dog and the gentlest in the bunch. He does require a lot of exercise but that is also fun! After this experience, I will always have a rescued Pit Bull!

  • EmilyS

    very good! I do have to add
    4) learn about the breed traits of the American Pit Bull Terrier and be a responsible owner. Don’t put your dog in a position to “fail” or get in trouble. That means: socialize, but… watch out for dogs that might spark yours and prevent any bad interactions from developing. Maturing dogs may become less tolerant of other dogs (the APBT is NOT the only breed for which that’s true).. that’s normal and manageable. and
    5) S/N your dog at an appropriate age, DONT let breeding “accidents” happen. Leave the careful breeding of healthy, temperamentally correct APBTs and AmStaffs to people who know what they’re doing.

    • Lflanagan311

      You are so right. Thanks, EmilyS!

    • Sdavis_caa

      I agree! Breed education and responsible ownership are also key to keeping a community pit bull friendly.

    • I agree.

    • Leave the careful breeding of APBT’s and AmStaffs to people who know what they’re doing? And what would that be? Making a buck at the expense of untold misery among the tens of thousands of excess pit bulls swelling the animal shelters and pounds in this country? No one who CARES about what they’re doing would be a party to deliberately adding to the huge pet overpopulation in this country with annual euthanizations of dogs and cats estimated to be as high as 12,000,000 a year. Shame on those “responsible breeders.” (I trust you’re not one yourself.)

  • Marie

    My pit-mix is fierce at the door to strangers, but a very sweet dog, eager to please.

    • Walt Vasco

      As ALL good dogs should be!!

  • Bugs_b27

    I love these dogs!!! Pits are WONDERFUL companions! Thanks for doing this!!

  • I have had the distinct pleasure of working with Pit Bulls at Safe Haven of Iowa County, Queenie and I spent a quite a bit of time with some of them. They are truly great, sweet, beautiful , as well as loving and affectionate animals. Humans create the problems, not the dogs. Hope you will all read and send this forward, they need our help.

  • Candie

    I love my two pit bulls, they are brothers. 🙂